PhD scholarship at The Danish National Research Foundation Centre for Privacy Studies (3 years)
University of Copenhagen, Centre for Privacy Studies (PRIVACY)

PhD scholarship at The Danish National Research Foundation Centre for Privacy Studies (3 years)


Centre for Privacy Studies (PRIVACY), funded by the Danish National Research Foundation and based in Copenhagen, advertises 3-4 fully funded PhD positions within the fields of Architectural History, Church History, Legal History and History. PRIVACY is established with a grant of 50 mio DKK (ca. 6.7 mio Euro) from the Danish National Research Foundation and based at the University of Copenhagen.   


PRIVACY was launched in the autumn of 2017 under the direction of Professor Mette Birkedal Bruun and runs for six years with the possibility of a four-year extension. It is hosted by the Department of Church His­tory at the Faculty of Theology, University of Copenhagen, in association with the Faculty of Law, Uni­versity of Copenhagen and the School of Architecture, Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Schools of Ar­chitecture, Design and Conservations (KADK), Copenhagen. 


The PRIVACY research team currently consists of six postdocs and three PhD-students as well as affiliated and visiting scholars. 


The Centre   

PRIVACY is dedicated to interdisciplinary and collaborative research into notions of privacy in Early Mod­ern Europe. It focuses on eleven cases from Denmark, England, France, Germany and the Netherlands in the period 1500–1800. The collaborative programme is driven by an interdisciplinary vision of an inte­grated approach in which a team of scholars collaborate, challenge and inspire each other in a joint pursuit of the legislative, religious, social, cultural and architectural aspects of a shared set of cases. Shared re­sponsibility across academic hierarchies is a token of PRIVACY’s vision for interactive research education.   


The aim of PRIVACY is to develop 1) systematized historical knowledge of dynamics that shape, induce or curb privacy in society; 2) an interdisciplinary method equipped to grasp such dynamics; and 3) a strong and vibrant international research environment dedicated to high-profile historical research and equipped to incite a much broader investigation of privacy.   


PRIVACY’s scholarly potency stems from its site-based interdisci­plinary analysis. Across eleven cases the research team will trawl Early Modern material: let­ters, laws, political manuals, newspa­pers, sermons, vis­ual representations, architectural drawings, buildings, diaries, contracts, commu­nity records etc. for no­tions of privacy, analysing the deployment of words with the root ‘priv-ʼ: in privato, privy, Privat-(per­son/andacht etc.), privauté etc. as well as bounda­ries drawn in relation to, e.g., confidentiality, security, family, body, self. The research programme is based on a joint interdisciplinary focus on, e.g., legislative thresholds between home and com­munity; de­crees regarding individ­uals’ bodies, e.g., during epidemics, or the idea of the household’s (oeco­no­mia) impact on civic well-being (politia); ecclesiastical and politi­cal power over ‘hereti­cal’ mind­sets; and architectural demarcation of the household in the community and the individuals’ place in a household.  


PhD students funded by PRIVACY are required to formulate a PhD project within one of the PRIVACY cases and to join an additional case-team. For this round of recruitment, we invite applications focusing on the German cases as well as La Rochelle, Chatsworth, Glasgow and Arc-et-Senans. 


For further description of the project and the eleven cases, please visit the project homepage.    


Research areas   

PRIVACY launches a systematic, scholarly fusion of the areas of architecture, theology, law and history. The research team will bring together four sets of field-inherent skills and approaches to privacy:    


Architecture: Urban plans, buildings and rooms frame privacy, creating secrecy and shelter; chapels and cabinets stage prayer, study and intimacy, and are amplified by interiors and furnishing; alcove beds and privies (toilets) wall off bodily needs; rural retreat offset urban life.   

Qualifications required: Knowledge of design processes, architectural history and theories, patronage, pat­terns of use, materiality and tectonics.    


Religious culture: Early Modern believers favour privacy (material and/or mental retreat) as a site for pious focus, and privacy is often presented as place particularly fit for prayer and insight. But privacy also evades control and prompts suspicion of heresy or sin, leading to efforts to regulate the private sphere by means of church discipline.    

Qualifications required: Knowledge of religious, doctrines, practices and institutions across confessions, ability to work with different genres, media and forms of archival material.    


Law: Early Modern law defines conditions for property, sexual conduct, marriage, inheritance and rulers’ claims to their subjects’ work, property and lives (conscription, monopoly of violence within penal law).    

Qualifications required: Knowledge of legal procedure, laws, charters, their usage and changes.  


History: Historians may focus on Early Modern notions of privacy within a scholarly span ranging from political theory to social practice. In Early Modern society, privacy is seen both as a threat and as a positive value. A new ideology of marriage and family favours intimacy and domesticity, but also enforces state and community control. In politics, privacy often equals secrecy: it is a latent threat to civic stability and vital for the ruler. In society more generally, a broad array of social and societal conditions delineate access to and notions of privacy.  

Qualifications required: Knowledge of political/legal structures, education, and social and cultural dynam­ics. 



Applicants must have an MA degree within the fields of Architecture, Church History, History, Legal History or related disciplines. The research language is English. The research team works on sources in French, German, Danish, Dutch, Latin, Portuguese and Classical Greek. Specialist knowledge of Early Modern culture is important. Just as central is, however, readiness to engage in interdisciplinary col­laboration on a broad array of different sources and work towards an integrated methodology for interdis­ciplinary privacy studies.    


The University of Copenhagen welcomes applications from suitably qualified candidates regardless of age, gender, race, religion or ethnic background.   


Recruitment seminar   

A recruitment seminar will take place in Copenhagen 5-6 March 2019. It will involve an introduction to PRIVACY and its research programme as well as a presentation of expectations regarding applications.    


The number of participants is restricted. A limited number of bursaries covering trips and accommodation for one night are available. For more information and registration, please see the homepage. 


Job Description   

PhD students at PRIVACY are required to be present at the Centre for the duration of their employment. They will participate in weekly meetings, field trips and workshops and be required to contribute to joint publications and publish research on selected cases in international peer-reviewed journals where appro­priate.    


All PhD students will be employed and enrolled at one of the following institutions:   

  • Department of Church History at Faculty of Theology, University of Copenhagen  

  • The Faculty of Law, University of Copenhagen or 

  • The School of Architecture, The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Schools of Architecture, Design and Conservations (KADK), Copenhagen.  



The Faculty of Theology, University of Copenhagen. The Faculty is non-confessional. Its research covers Biblical Studies, Church History and Systematic Theology as well as Quranic Studies, Jewish Studies and African Studies. The Faculty is home to a number of high-profile international interdisciplinary research projects. PRIVACY is associated with the Department of Church History which has a strong Early Modern research focus.   


The Faculty of Law, University of Copenhagen. The Faculty of Law works towards cre­ating greater knowledge of national and international law. Through a research-based education the Fac­ulty ensures that its legal graduates have the skills needed to analyse and contribute to interdisciplinary and problem-oriented tasks in private and public sectors at home and abroad. The Faculty offers a strong international environment.     


School of Architecture, The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Schools of Architecture, Design and Conservations (KADK).Copenhagen. KADK was founded in 1754 and hosts three leading schools in archi­tecture, design and conservation. The School of Architecture has educated internationally renowned archi­tects for centuries. It has about 900 students distributed across four institutes each with a bachelor pro­gramme and two or three master programmes in architecture. If relevant, the PhD student will assist on the master programme Spatial Design at Institute of Architecture and Design.    


Terms of employment   

The successful PhD candidates will be offered a full-time PhD position for a period of three years. The can­didates will be employed and paid in accordance with the agreement between the Ministry of Finance and the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations (AC). Employment at The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Schools of Architecture, Design and Conservations will be according to the specific job structure of this institution.    


Application procedure   

Applications must be submitted via the electronic application system. Click on the link provided below to be taken to the online application form.   


The application should be in English and include the following enclosures:    

  • a motivation letter, including a plan for your employment at the Centre (1 page), please specify which institution you are applying for   

  • CV, highlighting language skills   

  • a copy of MA degree certificate/s    

  • a list of publications   

  • if relevant, a portfolio with design works    

  • a research proposal which develops the project idea, broad conceptual framing and proposed method­ology of your PhD project in related to one of the PRIVACY cases as well as two other cases you would be interested in (max 3 pages in all)   

  • a short abstract of your MA-thesis or equivalent (in English)   

  • one sample of writing (an article or a chapter from your  MA- thesis)   

  • name, e-mail address, telephone numbers and postal address of two academic referees   


We advise you to have the documents ready before you begin your online application.    


Application deadline and starting date    

Applications must be submitted electronically no later than 15 April 2019. Applications received after the closing date will not be considered.    


The ideal starting date would be 1 September 2019, but this is negotiable.    


Recruitment process   

After the application deadline, the Director of Centre for Privacy Studies selects applicants for assessment on the advice of the Appointments Committee. This selection is based on the applicants’ educational qual­ifications, the quality of the submitted research proposal and its relevance to the research agenda of the centre as well as other relevant qualifications. All applicants are immediately notified whether their appli­cation has been accepted for assessment.   


The applications accepted for assessment will be assessed by an interdisciplinary committee, comprising expertise in the relevant fields. Selected applicants will be notified of the composition of the assessment committee. When the committee has completed its assessment, each applicant has the opportunity to comment on the assessment. A number of qualified candidates will be selected for a job interview in Co­penhagen. We aim to interview short-listed candidates in the beginning of June 2019.  


Additional information    

For information about PRIVACY, please check this homepage.   


For questions regarding research, please contact Centre Director, Professor Mette Birkedal Bruun; for practical questions, please contact Centre Administrator Maj Riis Poulsen  



Potential applicants from outside Denmark will find information about life in Denmark (taxation, healthcare etc.) on the website of InternationalStaff Mobility.     


Publisher: Centre for Privacy Studies, Faculty of Theology / Faculty of Law / School of Architecture, Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Schools of Architecture, Design and Conservations  


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